Being in Relationship With Everything
From the time we are born we begin a path of discovery. The discovery involves exploring the environment around us as we receive its stimuli. We seem to possess a vital presence in each waking moment. Our senses are new and wondrous gifts on this human journey and will continue to unfold as we learn to experience the world around us through touch, taste, seeing, hearing and smelling. As infants, toddlers and children, we are naturally curious about the world around us and we are openly receiving it as well as responding. We recognize that some things feel good, and some don’t; we learn the variations of texture, taste, sound, touch and what we see.
As we grow up, we learn to trust our sense of sight to a large degree (some say 70% of our adult sensing is sight) and sometimes at the expense of the others. We begin to “overlook” the natural world around us and take most things for granted. Our natural sensing curiosity gives way to intellectual learning & “getting ahead”. Busy schedules can leave us always rushing ahead, time becomes our master and we soon find ourselves ruled by patterns & structures we’ve created. How can we keep one foot in our active lives and one in the mysterious world of our relationship with all living things, including ourselves?
When we were born and we had that affinity for all things, that curiosity & relationship, it apparently came with us via our DNA. That’s the essence of the modern term Biophilia. Its original definition in the early 1900’s was about an instinctual drive to stay alive, but in the 1980’s, Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson proposed that biophilia is “an innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms”. He observed that nature uniquely influenced the human mind and emotions. When we are in nature, or even gazing out our window at the moon, rain, trees etc.; we are once again participant in that relationship. We can just look, but I also feel it is the feeling of what we are witnessing/perceiving – how does it feel inside when we are looking at the dance of tree shadows on a wall, or the sound of birds, or the touch of a breeze? Our typical response is often to think about what we are perceiving, but what if we could simply experience, to be so captured in that moment that we enter into a deeper connection, possibly even a momentary oneness.
Writer and Greek scholar Peter Kingsley talks about the senses as divine gifts, and that everything is calling to us to wake up. And we have everything we need right here, we are given, everywhere, right now. Every sound is an opportunity to be conscious. It’s the cosmos calling. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about the silence at the crossroads of the senses. Amid all the gifts we are given, we are asked to give back attention.. attention at every moment, not just from time to time. Kingsley also says that we are called to a certain responsibility. As human beings we’ve been given something divine, meaning something mysterious & real, and we can’t hand it back. He talks about Parmenides & Empedocles, greek philosophers who lived over 2500 years ago. “They spoke about metis, a quality of very fluid awareness which we all possess and is aware of everything that’s going on without any effort. Where by being aware through all our senses together we merge with the infinite stillness all around us. It’s actually a tremendous act of humility just to listen, to sense, to receive. It’s a totally simple presence – natural & rare. To perceive that you are perceiving, aware of yourself seated on a chair, seeing and hearing and feeling together – that is the original meaning of the expression common sense.”
It’s a relationship with the present moment, which I feel leads to fuller relationships with ourselves and the people around us. To be aware, present, and not fall into default mode of mind*, is to live fully and remain curious and vital. What we were born with is not lost, just covered over from too much patterned thinking & doing, too many beliefs and too many expectations.. and taking the living world for granted. Every object & living thing is in a state of vibration, and we know from physics that we are vibration everything is connected, living, vital and in relationship.
* default mode of mind – being in the future, past, self referential (I like this, I don’t like this) or present but wishing it to be different.
Try this: As you sit, feel yourself sitting and touching the chair & floor. Perhaps include sensations on your skin, the flow of air through nostrils. Take in the sounds around you. Let your vision take in anything, but almost more with a sense of peripheral vision, or a soft focus. Now blend all of these sensings and simply be absolutely present allowing everything to be just as it is. Try this ‘fluid awareness’ for a few seconds or longer and try to come back to it now & then throughout your day where ever you are, even walking or other activities.